I am not the archetypal author: Why “in character” has no meaning


I realized that, if I had written about this experience and included it as a scene in one of my works of fiction, many readers would accuse me of “inconsistency” and “not staying in character.”

As a real, non-fictional person, of course, I don’t have the concept of “in character.” I’m not any of the fictional archetypes– not even the more complex archetypes, since none of them are as complex as a human being. Whatever rules I come up with to describe my behavior, there are always exceptions, and even I can’t always define where and what those exceptions are going to be.

The rest of this essay has been taken down for inclusion in my next memoir. Stay tuned for updates.

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3 Responses to I am not the archetypal author: Why “in character” has no meaning

  1. Shira says:

    Holy crap, that was deep. And definitely a lot to chew on. There’s got to be a right answer in there someplace, for those of us who do write at least partially from a motivation to see ourselves getting to have “those” adventures.

    • admin says:

      I tend to deal with the apparent inconsistencies of my characters by having other characters talk about them. In real life, it’s common for a person to have contradictions, but it’s also common for other people to try and analyze those contradictions, and try to come up with explanations of how the contradictory behavior fits with the person’s personality. So when I make a complex character who behaves inconsistently, I have characters talk about that inconsistency. They don’t even have to come up with a really great explanation for it; just the fact that they discuss it makes the story more “believable.”

  2. Shira says:

    That’s an established writing technique that Tof has referred to as ‘lampshading’, i.e. drawing attention to something to show that you did in on purpose.